Pitfalls and Drawbacks of Authentic Leadership

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Anneke Zwart
Student (University), Netherlands

Pitfalls and Drawbacks of Authentic Leadership

Although authenticity has become a popular and according to some people critical feature for efficient leadership, Ibarra (2015) argues that the success of the authentic leadership approach depends on the way it is perceived/defined. A too static definition of authenticity, thereby seeing it as a static unwavering identity, may actually hamper effective leadership and growth.

Leaders indeed struggle with this type of leadership today, especially because of current dynamic environments. These require more frequent and more radical changes in what we do, rather than sticking too much to authentic leadership principles.
In other words: leaders should balance authenticity and adaptability. If one of those exceeds the other, the probability of being ineffective is high. For example, if authenticity overrides adaptability, learning and growth are inhibited.

In conclusion, authenticity can be interpreted in various ways. Seeing it as 'being the way we have always been’ will hamper business growth and efficient leadership rather than supporting it.

⇒Are there any other disadvantages or pitfalls of authentic leadership?

Source: Ibarra, H. (2015) “Don’t let Authenticity Hold you Back” Harvard Business Review.

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